MHKY: Game Grades: Michigan
Penn State kicked off Big Ten play with conference rival Michigan. With Michigan being ranked No. 20 and Penn State ranked No. 7, two big games where expected out of these teams, and they did not disappoint. Penn State left Pegula on Friday with two wins (6-1 on Thursday, 5-1 on Friday) that extended their game winning streak to 11 games, making their record 13-1-1. Here are the game grades from Penn State’s series sweep:
The biggest challenge for head coach Guy Gadowsky was making sure his team didn’t get distracted by the excitement of Big Ten play starting. Penn State is getting ready to face some higher skilled teams in the next few weeks, and as long as Gadowsky can keep his team playing the way they have been, they are going to come out the other end of the season with a pretty impressive record.
Gadowsky also did a fantastic job of keeping his team motivated heading into Friday night. After beating a team 6-1, it can be hard to play them again with the same intensity, but Penn State came firing out of the gates on Friday.
As for line changes, everything mostly stayed the same, except there was some juggling going on in Thursday’s game. Chase Berger and David Goodwin, who are on a line together with Brandon Biro, also took turns doing work with Zach Saar and Ricky DeRosa. This line juggling payed off well for DeRosa, who netted a goal, and Saar, who tallied an assist when Berger was doing time on their line.
This week’s games were a great outing for the Penn State offense who saw 10 different forwards and all six defensemen leave Pegula with at least one point. Adding on to that, at least five players had multiple-point games this weekend.
The Penn State Offense was doing everything right this weekend: it broke into the zone with ease, it was connecting passes, it had bodies in front of the net, and most importantly it had scoring from top to bottom in its lineup. The depth of this Penn State team is incredible.
Andrew Sturtz and Denis Smirnov had an outstanding weekend; Sturtz netted three goals while Smirnov contributed four assists and a goal. These two have really been the offensive leaders for Penn State during this season, hopefully they can keep it up as conference play continues.
The Penn State defense also had a great outing this weekend, led once again by Trevor Hamilton and Kevin Kerr. Hamilton, in particular, stuck out against Michigan with two goals on the weekend. Both came on the power play, which Hamilton and Kerr have done a fantastic job running this season.
Penn State’s defense did a good job of limiting Michigan’s chances; even if Michigan is ranked at No. 20 they have offensive weapons that will capitalize on mistakes. Penn State did a good job of making sure those mistakes did not happen.
Goal Tending: A+
Peyton Jones received both starts this weekend, as he should have. Jones has been spectacular all season long for Penn State and he continued that trend against Michigan. Jones faced 52 total shot this weekend and only let up two goals.
A young goaltender being able to keep his composure in such an exciting atmosphere is a good sign for Penn State moving forward.
Special Teams: A+
Penn State once again became number one in the nation on the penalty kill by killing all six of Michigan’s power play chances. This season, opponents have only been able to score five times in the 65 chances that Penn State has given them.
As for the power play, Penn State went 4-8 against Michigan. The power play was particularly exciting on Thursday’s game; Penn State scored two times and its only took five total shots on the power play. This statistic really speaks to the preciseness of the Penn State power play and its ability to make plays happen.
Carly Pendergast is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.